August 30, 2014  

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Southern Miss to Host First Mississippi Health Summit April 29

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The general consensus among health care professionals is that Mississippi will remain near the bottom of major health-related statistics unless a unified effort is made to combat the problem.

With collaboration as the overarching theme, The University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Health has taken the lead role in planning and organizing the first Mississippi Health Summit set for April 29 at the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. As many as 200 leaders in health care and related fields throughout Mississippi are expected to attend the unique summit, scheduled to run from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

“By bringing together so many individuals with influence over one or another facet of Mississippi’s health system, the Summit will underscore opportunities for collaborative synergy and identify some specific steps we can take to move forward,” said Dr. Michael Forster, dean of the College of Health at Southern Miss. “In a state as health-challenged as Mississippi, what could be more important?”

The event is being co-sponsored by The University of Mississippi Medical Center, Forrest General Hospital, the Mississippi Hospital Association and the Mississippi Public Health Association. Three primary topics have been identified as key points of discussion – workforce development, research and health-related economic development.

A broad range of speakers will highlight the three panels of discussion, including a keynote address by Dr. Rick deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and host of Mississippi Public Radio’s Southern Remedy broadcast.

“We all know Mississippi’s BIG problem, obesity, is driving an epidemic of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and stroke among others in our state,” said deShazo. “This will be our first generation that lives a shorter and lower quality of life than their parents. I think Mississippi’s bigger problem is who will lead us out of this quagmire? No one person, or group, seems to be doing that.”

One component of the Summit involves the use of breakout sessions following each of the three primary topic discussions. During these sessions, attendees will have an opportunity to exchange ideas about a given theme and find ways to unify efforts between their respective organizations to help solve the state’s health problems. Each breakout group will have a reporter who will document the session, and those notes will be compiled into a report that will be made available for public viewing.

Forster noted that the idea for a Mississippi Health Summit emerged last year as a proposal by the College of Health’s advisory board to encourage collaboration among educators to bolster Mississippi’s health care workforce.

“Over time it became evident that other important actors should be engaged in a broader dialogue about collaboration for improved health outcomes – including health service providers, state agency leadership, health care professional organizations, economic development professionals, non-profit foundations and public officials,” said Forster. “As a result, individuals of responsibility in each of these arenas were invited to attend the Summit, and the response has been extremely positive.”

For more information about the Mississippi Health Summit and the College of Health at Southern Miss, call 601.266.5253 or visit http://www.usm.edu/coh/